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2 Peter 2:14-22

Context
2:14 Their eyes, 1  full of adultery, 2  never stop sinning; 3  they entice 4  unstable people. 5  They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children! 6  2:15 By forsaking the right path they have gone astray, because they followed the way of Balaam son of Bosor, 7  who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 8  2:16 yet was rebuked 9  for his own transgression (a dumb donkey, 10  speaking with a human voice, 11  restrained the prophet’s madness). 12 

2:17 These men 13  are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm, for whom the utter depths of darkness 14  have been reserved. 2:18 For by speaking high-sounding but empty words 15  they are able to entice, 16  with fleshly desires and with debauchery, 17  people 18  who have just escaped 19  from those who reside in error. 20  2:19 Although these false teachers promise 21  such people 22  freedom, they themselves are enslaved to 23  immorality. 24  For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved. 25  2:20 For if after they have escaped the filthy things 26  of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 27  they 28  again get entangled in them and succumb to them, 29  their last state has become worse for them than their first. 2:21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them. 2:22 They are illustrations of this true proverb: 30 A dog returns to its own vomit,” 31  and “A sow, after washing herself, 32  wallows in the mire.” 33 

1 tn Grk “having eyes.” See note on “men” at the beginning of v. 12.

2 tn Grk “full of an adulteress.”

3 tn Grk “and unceasing from sin.” Some translate this “insatiable for sin,” but such a translation is based on a textual variant with inadequate support.

4 tn Grk “enticing.” See note on “men” at the beginning of v. 12.

5 tn “People” is literally “souls.” The term ψυχή (yuch) can refer to one’s soul, one’s life, or oneself.

6 tn Grk “having hearts trained in greediness, children of cursing.” The participles continue the general description of the false teachers, without strong grammatical connection. The genitive κατάρας (kataras, “of cursing”) is taken attributively here.

7 tn Although many modern translations (e.g., NASB, TEV, NIV, CEV, NLT) read “Beor” here, this is due to harmonization with the OT rather than following a variant textual reading. The Greek text of NA27 reads “Bosor,” an otherwise unattested form of the name of Balaam’s father.

8 tn “Wages of unrighteousness” in Greek is the same expression found in v. 13, “wages for harmful ways.” The repetition makes the link between the false teachers and Balaam more concrete.

9 tn Grk “but he had a rebuke.”

10 tn The Greek word ἄφωνος (afwno") means “mute, silent” or “incapable of speech.” For reasons of English style the word “dumb” was used in the translation. Despite the potential for misunderstanding (since “dumb” can refer to a lack of intellectual capability) more dynamic glosses were judged to be inelegant.

11 tn Grk “a voice of a (man/person).”

12 sn Balaam’s activities are detailed in Num 22—24 (see also Num 31:8, 16).

13 tn Although some translations have simply “these” or “these people,” since in v. 14 they are described as having eyes “full of an adulteress,” men are in view.

14 tn Grk “utter darkness of darkness.” Verse 4 speaks of wicked angels presently in “chains of utter darkness,” while the final fate of the false teachers is a darker place still.

15 tn Grk “high-sounding words of futility.”

16 tn Grk “they entice.”

17 tn Grk “with the lusts of the flesh, with debauchery.”

18 tn Grk “those.”

19 tn Or “those who are barely escaping.”

20 tn Or “deceit.”

21 tn Verse 19 is a subordinate clause in Greek. The masculine nominative participle “promising” (ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, epangellomenoi) refers back to the subject of vv. 17-18. At the same time, it functions subordinately to the following participle, ὑπάρχοντες (Juparconte", “while being”).

22 tn Grk “them.”

23 tn Grk “slaves of.” See the note on the word “slave” in 1:1.

24 tn Or “corruption,” “depravity.” Verse 19 constitutes a subordinate clause to v. 18 in Greek. The main verbal components of these two verses are: “uttering…they entice…promising…being (enslaved).” The main verb is (they) entice. The three participles are adverbial and seem to indicate an instrumental relation (by uttering), a concessive relation (although promising), and a temporal relation (while being [enslaved]). For the sake of English usage, in the translation of the text this is broken down into two sentences.

25 tn Grk “for by what someone is overcome, to this he is enslaved.”

26 tn Grk “defilements”; “contaminations”; “pollutions.”

27 sn Through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The implication is not that these people necessarily knew the Lord (in the sense of being saved), but that they were in the circle of those who had embraced Christ as Lord and Savior.

28 tn Grk “(and/but) they.”

29 tn Grk “they again, after becoming entangled in them, are overcome by them.”

30 tn Grk “the [statement] of the true proverb has happened to them.” The idiom in Greek cannot be translated easily in English.

31 tn The quotation is a loose rendering of Prov 26:11. This proverb involves a participle that is translated like a finite verb (“returns”). In the LXX this line constitutes a subordinate and dependent clause. But since the line has been lifted from its original context, it has been translated as an independent statement.

32 tn Or “after being washed.” The middle verb may be direct (“wash oneself”) or permissive (“allow oneself to be washed”).

33 tn The source of this quotation is uncertain. Heraclitus has often been mentioned as a possible source, but this is doubtful. Other options on the translation of the second line include a sow, having (once) bathed herself (in mud), (returns) to wallowing in the mire, or a sow that washes herself by wallowing in the mire (BDAG 181 s.v. βόρβορος). The advantage of this last translation is that no verbs need to be supplied for it to make sense. The disadvantage is that in this context it does not make any contribution to the argument. Since the source of the quotation is not known, there is some guesswork involved in the reconstruction. Most commentators prefer a translation similar to the one in the text above.



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